Making Summaries

What is summary: A summary is an accurate restatement of material in fewer words.

How to summarize: To be able to summarize properly, you will need to locate main ideas and

significant details and put this information in your own words.

Follow these steps when you summarize a text.

  1. Underline the main idea twice. Only underline the important parts of a sentence, not the entire sentence.
  2. Example:

    The greenhouse effect occurs as carbon dioxide, water vapor and certain other gases in the atmosphere allow the sun's ultraviolet rays to penetrate and warm the earth and then absorb the infrared energy that is radiated back into space.

  3. Underline one or two major details in each paragraph once to differentiate them from main ideas.
  4. Example:

    If the opacity of the atmosphere to infrared radiation were to increase, the temperature would increase.

  5. Write your summary either in outline form or in a short paragraph. Try to put the summary in your own words. Note that a summary is briefer and less detailed than an outline. It goes one step beyond an outline by pulling together the writer's thoughts and making general statements about them.

(From Integrating College Study Skills, 1984 and College Reading and Study Skills, 1992)




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